With the latest instance of two cases of Covid in Christchurch who were sparingly scanning QR codes, it may be time for the government to make QR code scanning mandatory, even if for a limited period of time.  

The government is grappling with a multitude of issues, ideas and strategies as it transitions its approach from elimination to suppression of the Delta virus and leads the country into a new unknown. 

Decisive action in removing confusion and bringing as much clarity as possible around rules related to Covid management would be helpful for the country in the long term than worrying about its overall image in the short term. 

Christchurch remains on the edge with at least two households caught up in the latest South Island community outbreak with more test results to come and a threat of restrictions looming large.

As public health officials scramble to get more information and movement details of the pair from the same households, it has come as a grim surprise that the duo were rarely scanning QR codes. 

One of them travelled from Auckland on October 15 (where they were on an authorised visit) and infected the other person in the same household and had since then moved around without scanning QR codes. 

Despite the frenetic efforts by public health officials, it is clear that reconstructing all movement details of the duo will be a task, and that too with limited certainty – leaving Christchurch and the wider South Island community nervous and anxious. 

To be fair to the duo, although not following common sense, they had not broken any law by not scanning QR codes. 

Clearly – cases and situations like this are falling in no-man’s land where responsibility cannot be pinned down to anyone – thus weakening our collective response to Covid outbreak. 

It was okay while the government was pursuing an elimination strategy by stamping the virus out of the community and managing Covid at the borders, and a relaxed approach towards scanning QR codes was less costly for New Zealanders. 

This has changed now with Covid in the community, and the government needs to act fast and decisively to set up a clearer regime and rules based system. 

Making scanning of QR codes or leaving contact details at every commercial or public place will tighten a lot of loose ends in the government’s overall Covid-repsonse plan. 

Acting expeditiously, clearly and firmly has been one important area in the government’s otherwise reasonably successful Covid management approach that requires urgent attention. 

In most instances, the government has only acted conservatively, apprehensively and very late-mover in decisions around Covid management in the last eighteen months (such as closing borders, allowing temporary migrants stuck overseas back into the country, vaccination, or allowing self-isolation at home etc).

Now is the time for the government to fix that anomaly and change its image of being the late-mover in every aspect of Covid management. 

Making scanning of QR codes mandatory for next 12 months would not hurt most Kiwis and will shore-up our collective response to Covid as we gear up to live with Delta virus in the country.